In re M.R., 2018 IL App (2d) 170342 (March). Episode 484 (Duration 10:56)
Minors charged with possession of stolen vehicle must be charged in juvenile court.
Several minors where charged with possession of stolen vehicles in adult court.
The trial court dismissed the charges against the defendants, ruling that the defendants could not be prosecuted as adults.
State wonders why the heck not.
Juvenile Court Act 705 ILCS 5/5-125
The State argues on appeal that the defendants may be prosecuted as adults, pursuant to section 5-125 of the Juvenile Court Act.
It provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
“Any minor alleged to have violated a traffic, boating, or fish and game law, or a municipal or county ordinance, may be prosecuted for the violation and if found guilty punished under any statute or ordinance relating to the violation, without reference to the procedures set out in this Article ***[.] For the purpose of this Section, ‘traffic violation’ shall include a violation of Section 9-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012 relating to the offense of reckless homicide, Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or any similar county or municipal ordinance.”
705 ILCS 405/5-125.
Thus, minors can’t be charged with most Illinois criminal offenses in adult court.
State is saying that possession of a stolen vehicle is in the traffic code not the criminal code (720 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq.). So it is a traffic offense that may be charged without reference to the juvenile court procedures.
The State insists that section 4-103 is a traffic law, such that a minor accused of violating it may be prosecuted as an adult.
Possession of Stolen Vehicle
The offense of possession of a stolen vehicle is defined in section 4-103(a)(1) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/4-103(a)(1)), which, as pertinent here, provides that it is a violation of the Vehicle Code for
“[a] person not entitled to the possession of a vehicle or essential part of a vehicle to receive, possess, conceal, sell, dispose, or transfer it, knowing it to have been stolen or converted.”
What About The Second Sentence?
The State notes that section 5-125 of the Juvenile Court Act states that,
“[f]or the purpose of this Section, ‘traffic violation’ shall include a violation of Section 9-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012 relating to the offense of reckless homicide, Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or any similar county or municipal ordinance.”
705 ILCS 405/5-125.
The State argues that the term “traffic violation” is not limited to those two offenses.
State Is Right About One Thing
According to the State, “[h]ad the legislature wanted to include it in the Criminal Code instead, it certainly could have done so and it did not.”
The State is correct that “traffic violation” is not limited to the two offenses specifically mentioned in section 5-125 of the Juvenile Court Act.
“The words ‘include’ or ‘including’ are ordinarily terms of enlargement rather than restriction and indicate that items enumerated in a statute are not meant to be exclusive.”
What About Possession of Stolen Vehicle?
The task still remains to determine what offenses other than those specifically mentioned in section 5-125 are violations of traffic laws.
By pointing out that possession of a stolen vehicle appears in the Vehicle Code rather than the Criminal Code, the State appears to assume that all laws found in the Vehicle Code are traffic laws. We do not share the assumption.
To determine whether possession of a stolen vehicle is a violation of a traffic law, we look to the definition of “traffic.”
Definition of Traffic
Section 1-207 of the Vehicle Code provides that “traffic” means
“[p]edestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars and other conveyances either singly or together while using any highway for purposes of travel.”
We fail to see how, when measured by this definition, the law proscribing possession of a stolen vehicle could be considered a traffic law.
Moreover, the character of the offense does not change merely because, by happenstance, the defendants committed the offense while operating vehicles in traffic.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgments of the circuit court of Winnebago County are affirmed.